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On The Road | 1 Wine Dude - Page 27

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Dance On A Volcano: Grapegrowing At The Edge Of Time At Clos de los Siete

Vinted on July 7, 2011 binned in elegant wines, kick-ass wines, on the road, overachiever wines

“This…. this was all vineyards of Malbec…”

They say the Italian influence runs strong in Argentina, and nowhere does it look stronger than in the face of our driver, Carlos Tizio Mayer – Plump, Roman-nosed and topped with a wavy shock of grey hair, he could be any of a dozen Italian uncles plucked straight from of the memories of my youth growing up in Wilmington’s “Little Italy.”  He is driving with one hand, and waving to articulate his words with the other (as they saying goes, if you want to get an Italian to stop talking, hold down his hands).  He’s waving towards the South American urban sprawl passing through the view from my passenger-side window.

Even his cadence seems Italian – or, I should say eeeeee-TAL-haaaaahn – deliberate, slow, and almost bearing a sing-song quality.  I have plenty of time to consider the nuances, as Carlos is talking nearly non-stop during a two hour pickup truck ride (with me, uncomfortably, in the back “seat”) from downtown Mendoza to the small town of Vista Flores, home to the winemaking properties of Clos de los Siete, and the vineyards which Carlos maintains as their General Manager.

Carlos is holding court with his captive audience during our drive, but I’m only paying half attention.  For one, Argentina’s roads aren’t exactly conducive to legible pen-and-paper note-taking; for another, I’m having a hard time keeping my eyes off of the view to our west, where Tupungato, the massive Pleistocene-era statovolcano, is also holding court. Tupungato is a giant among giants, towering over most of its Andean neighbors in a stunning, unmoving testament to the immense pyroclastic forces that, an immense amount of time ago, poleaxed an equally-immense stretch of land between what is now Chile and Argentina.

While I stare out the window waiting for the morning sun to get high enough to change the snow-capped peaks from auburn to bright white, Carlos continues without pause his history lesson of Argentine grapegrowing.

“We had fifty thousand hectares, now, it’s about thirty thousand” he says.  The vineyard plantings around Mendoza gave way to sprawl in the 1980s, when local consumer tastes changed.  Domestic per capita wine consumption here in the last twenty-five years has decreased from eighty liters a year to “less than thirty.  The younger generation is drinking soda… and beer.”…

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The Long View Of Long Island Red (Tasting Through 20+ Years Of Peconic Bay Merlot)

Vinted on June 30, 2011 binned in elegant wines, on the road

“No one really gets to try older Long Island wine… because, well, there really isn’t any!”

James Silver, General Manager of Peconic Bay Winery, was telling me about the dearth of older vintages for LI wine, as we stood on a small deck last weekend, overlooking their Cutchogue, NY property near the eastern edge of Long Island’s North Fork.  The sun was just starting to gain the strength it would need to banish the cloud cover and make for great outdoor picnic-and-wine-tasting weather (it would eventually prove triumphant), and the Peconic Bay staff was below us, a cadre of young, energetic mostly-twenty-somethings in PB t-shirts, bustling about like honeybees and getting the property ready for the days’ event – which happened to be, in an odd collision of personal worlds, my band’s trio performance under the “porch tent” for the afternoon.

James grew up in Chester County, PA, which my band calls home, and after discovering that a) I had a band and b) we were from Chester County, the urge to conjure up a Chester Co. Connection proved too great for him to pass up. Either that, or it helped him forget about the fact that taxes in LI were about a billion times higher than they were in his hometown.

I was serving double-duty, of course – no self-respecting wine geek shows up in LI on the same day that 20+ years of local Merlot are being poured and doesn’t try to crash that tasting. As James pointed out, it doesn’t happen everyday in an emerging wine region where the oldest vines generally tend to date back, at most, to the mid-eighties. My band was due to start playing only about an hour after the tasting would end, but there was no way I was going to miss this – screw ‘em, they’d have to settle for me setting up my bass gear in manic-mode just before soundcheck.  Twelve vintages of Peconic Bay Merlot dating back to `89 were being poured that morning, with all but three of them being made by Peconic Bay winemaker Greg Gove (the `89, `95 and `97 were products of the late Ray Blum who helped to found the winery)…

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WMG, NYC And TBA (Dining With The Wine Media Guild In New York)

Vinted on June 20, 2011 binned in on the road, wine industry events

 

I’m a member of the Wine Media Guild of New York, which probably makes little sense to many of you reading this considering that a) I don’t live in New York, b) I’m not formally in the media trade and c) I posses (maybe) one tenth the talent of WMG members like Kevin Zraly.  Members are required to attend a minimum of one WMG event per year, and so I carted Mrs. Dudette up to the Big Apple last week to attend the annual Hall of Fame dinner at the Four Seasons.

This year saw four people elected as Hall of Fame Inductees, none of whom, puzzlingly, were actually present to accept their honors (though in the case of Leon Adams, whose induction was posthumous, the absence was understandable!).

While it’s nice to rub elbows with the Right Coast’s wine media heavy-hitters, one of the biggest draws of the WMG annual HoF dinners are the wines brought by the members – many of whom pull out interesting/special/older bottles from their personal cellars, and I’m not above mooching off of the vinous bounty of my fellow members (not by a long way, in fact).

I guessed (correctly, it turned out) that most of the Right Coasters were going to go French (and older) with their selections, so I went a bit rogue with my choices…

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On The Road, Off The Beaten Path (A South American Wine Wrap-Up At PalatePress.com)

Vinted on June 17, 2011 binned in on the road, wine publications, wine review

 

I know I’m risking turning this blog into a South American wine coverage outlet recently (and there are at least two more posts yet to come from my recent jaunt there).  BUT…

Just in case you’re not yet sick of hearing about the wines and wine-related stories I encountered in Chile and Argentina (or if you’re looking for a sort-of Cliff Notes version), I’ve got a featured article running up at PalatePress.com (with corresponding wine reviews) focusing on the off-the-beaten-path, outside-of-the-bargain-bin gems I found during my S. American travels (and travails).

The article also makes me feel good, mostly because it (hopefully?) resets the counter on keeping the “contributing” part of my “contributing editor” title at Palate Press.  Anyway… here’s a run-down of the vinous S. American gems reviewed at PalatePress.com as part of the article:

Cheers!

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